Proposed cuts to library opening hours in Brent are “off the table” for now – but councillors did not rule out revisiting the proposal.

Cllr Margaret McLennan, deputy leader of Brent Council, told a scrutiny committee last night that the administration has agreed to revise the proposals.

In a draft budget report presented in October, it was suggested that opening hours at some of the borough’s six council-run libraries be cut.

This would have resulted in a saving of £150,000 and Cllr McLennan confirmed that, while it is not necessarily dead and buried, the idea has, at this time, been pulled.

“We are looking at the whole way we utilise libraries and, going forward, nothing is set in stone,” she said.

“It doesn’t mean we are not going to look at this in the future but, for now, it is off the table.”

The council has consistently repeated the financial struggles it is facing, and Cllr McLennan suggested that these savings would have to be obtained elsewhere.

She added that everything in the budget proposals – since it is a draft under consultation – can be “worked on” by the administration.

In terms of libraries, the scrutiny committee proposed transferring responsibilities to a charitable trust – as practised in Glasgow and Luton, for example – as they would then be eligible for business rates relief of at least 80 per cent.

Committee member Cllr Neil Nerva said: “We think this would be potentially beneficial financially, and boost resident engagement, if it is run properly.

“But it doesn’t happen overnight and, if it looks as if things will only get worse before they get better [financially], then we need to start now.”

The committee’s report also suggested giving greater responsibility to voluntary organisations if libraries are under threat of closure and chairman Cllr Matt Kelcher praised current projects in Brent that operate in this way.

Overall, the report emphasised the importance of libraries in the borough and urged the council to make it a priority area.

“Scaling back on this universal service would undermine the trust the council has slowly rebuilt with the community following the closure of several libraries before 2014,” it said.